NEW YORK — Mitt Romney said Tuesday that the United States must rethink how it awards foreign aid, and should work more with the private sector to nurture free enterprise and open economies in developing nations.
"Nothing we can do as a nation will change lives and nations more effectively and permanently than sharing the insight that lies at the foundation of America's own economy — free people pursuing happiness in their own ways builds a strong and prosperous nation," said Romney, addressing the Clinton Global Initiative headed by former President Bill Clinton.
Romney called the United States the most charitable nation in the world, but said sometimes aid money has not been used effectively.
In 2011, the U.S. government provided about $30 billion in development assistance, more than twice as much as the second most generous country, Germany. But the United States was 19th on the donor list if aid dollars are considered as a percentage of gross national income.
Romney said that while religious extremism is a cause of hostility in the Middle East, so are the large populations of young people without job prospects.
"Idle, humiliated by poverty and crushed by government corruption, their frustration and anger grows," he said, citing the fruit vendor in Tunisia whose self-immolation sparked the Arab Spring revolutions last year.
Egypt's new president calls for speech limits
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi said freedom of expression must be used responsibly in a speech Tuesday to the Clinton Global Initiative. Morsi, a key figure of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, repeated several times that he was the "first, democratically elected, civilian president of Egypt." Morsi called for limits on free speech, saying the violent protests over an anti-Islam video required "some reflection." "We must acknowledge the importance of freedom of expression," he said. "We must also recognize that such freedom comes with responsibilities, especially when it comes with serious implications for international peace and stability."